Prices of refrigerant are currently rising as changes to the Emission Trading Scheme have raised the cap of the New Zealand Carbon Unit from $25 to $35.  For those whose systems are using synthetic F gas refrigerants, particularly those that are older with high Global Warming Potential (GWP), there are cost and supply risks that need to be managed now.

You can find out the GWP of your refrigerant here with commonly used refrigerants at high risk now are R404a, R507, R410a and R407C.

What to consider when managing a site on high GWP synthetics e.g R404a and R507.

  1. Ensure you have a transition strategy in place – it cannot be put off any longer.
    • When thinking of options understand what is being recommended – many synthetic refrigerants should only be considered as transitional and spending on them could be a wasted.
    • Ensure you are getting a full range of options. Depending on your needs natural refrigerant options could include carbon dioxide, ammonia and hydrocarbons. All are viable and provide high performance capabilities, as well as future proofing your investment. Ensure your provider understands and has considered all possibilities and understands the best fit for your business and site.
    • If you can’t afford to invest in sustainable and future proof options now, look at retrofittting to a lower GWP to address immediate cost and supply risks. This may not be a case of simply swapping out and work may need to be done to create equal performance.
    • Ensure you have a leak management program in place. Not only is this a sustainable approach and will reduce site carbon emissions, at the current cost per kg leaking systems add significantly to operational costs.
  2. Understand how you will respond to a catastrophic leak. Do you have access to refrigerant? Have you budgeted to account for replacement refrigerant at current costs? It may prove more economic to do an immediate retrofit – have you agreed a plan with your provider in an emergency?
  3. Ensure you have adjusted operational budgets in line with rising costs and that your insurance cover is adequate.
  4. If you are planning to store additional refrigerant, understand your health and safety obligations.
  5. If you are looking to buy recycled refrigerant know what you are buying. Rising costs have increased the demand for recycled refrigerant and consequently the risk of purchasing “dirty” and fraudulent refrigerant. If you are planning to recycle your own, make sure you understand the risks and what is required for it to be able to be reused.